Christmas is celebrated all around the world in many different ways, from in our eyes the traditional to the oddball ones like a Christmas Log that Poops Presents, in Catalonia, Spain, which I will talk more about later, is is celebrated in some way in almost every country, from South Africa to Ukraine.
The tradition of hitting a log until it poops presents is fro Catalonia Spain. In spanish the tradition is called Caga Tio which means pooping log. The tradition starts on December 8th when the log gets put next to the fire place with a blanket over it and treated as a pet. It is fed every day in hopes it grows bigger. Over the rest of the month the parents swap out the log with consecutively bigger ones until it is fully grown by Christmas day. On christmas day they gather around it and try to get it to poop its presents by sining a song which goes like this, "Poop log, poop candy! If you don't poop well, I'll hit you with a stick. Poop log!" The kids then start to hit the log with sticks until the presents fall out which commonly consist of Turon nougat candy, coins and little toys. This is by far the weirdest tradition that I have ever heard of it is a little creepy to me because they treat it as a pet for about a month then they hit it with sticks.
On Nantucket there is a tradition of an elf, like the ones in the picture, which hides in the house. It starts to be hidden on the 1st of December and hides all they way up to Christmas. Each night the kids get a piece of candy and every fifth day the kids get a little something bigger like a cookie or a candy cane. I do this tradition and this year I have started to hide him for my brothers or parents to find. We have the elf on the right and we have been doing it for a few years now.
The next tradition is a tradition that started in about 1880 in Germany. It started when Woolsworth stores started to sell glass ornaments shaped like fruits and vegetables. The tradition has a few stories from which it can from but the most likely one is that the owner had extra pickles and made up the legend of the pickle ornament. The legend say that the pickle ornament is the last one to be put on the trees. Then the kid who found the ornament got an extra present under the tree. We also do this tradition my dad is the one who always puts the pickle on the tree and we often find it when we are still decorating. The pickle is surprisingly hard to find because it is a clear green ornament on a green tree.
Boxing day is a tradition which is celebrated in Holland, England, Australia and other European countries. Boxing day is the day after christmas. On this day the wealthier people who likely got more presents repackage a present or two and give them to the poor. This holiday started over 800 years ago when churches would collect items all year and give them to the poor that day. Another way that it started was the owners of a big house would, on the day after christmas, give their servants the day off and give them a repackaged gift.
In New Zealand they don't decorate a ever green tree, because it is the summer in December and all the flowers are in bloom, so instead they decorate a pohutukawa tree as seen in the picture. Needless to say the tree they decorate a tree that big. This tradition may not be around longer due to some of the obvious inconveniences of having a tree in the house.
If you have any traditions that you do and would like me to research some more on just post them in the comments and i will try to get to them.
People have lost sight of the holiday spirit. You can see this all through out the past month and in to the end of the year. The most obvious example in Black Friday. Black Friday is the day after thanksgiving, the day we are all giving thanks for everything that we have. Then the next day we go out and buy all sorts of new things. The owners of the big chains like Walmart, target, and Kohl's are all making their employees work on thanksgiving night and the day after not letting them spend time with their family's on the day that they are all supposed to be together celebrating. The point of the holiday season is it is a time to spend with your family because we spend the entire rest of the year working and trying to get what we want. The point of this time of year is to spend time with your family and have fun with the lights, the snow and the spirit of the holidays. The big CEOs make the Christmas season and Black Friday into a time of buy lots of stuffs right after giving thanks for everything that you already have. It's a time to celebrate and have fun not a time to go buy stuff by your self.
November 8, 2014
What People Miss
Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new. … One may almost doubt if the wisest man has learned anything of absolute value by living.
It was a cold Tuesday morning, the sun was shining brightly and the 9th grade class was shambling their way out to the buses to go over to Walden Pond. The grade did not look like they were having much fun, even though they would not have any academic classes that day. The kids thought the trip was kind of a so what trip because they did not see the point in seeing where Thoreau worked and wrote his book. Once we got there everybody realized it was more than that, it was an opportunity to learn about what Thoreau saw and where he was when he learned so much about the world and what people miss about the world when they do what they have done for their entire lives.
When I was at Walden I realized, If I had not been told to write a reflection about our trip when we were there, I know I would not have noticed half the things I did. When I was there I realized people don't know what the difference between want and need is. Henry David Thoreau mentions this in Economy, when he talks about what people need to survive. People often want new stuff, yet they never need it. They often think they need the newest and best iPhone or the newest toy or what ever but they really don't, they just want it. People never need the new phone or the new game. They just want to have them. The only reason that they want to have them is because it is newer so it has to be better than the old one. The new phone has to be better than the old phone even though they still do that same thing. They both call, text, check email, surf the web, and take pictures. There is no big difference that is big enough to spend 500 dollars on. There might be a better camera but then buy a new camera not a new phone. “And when the farmer has got his house, he may not be the richer but the poorer for it, and it be the house that has got him.” All the time people are buying new thing and getting new toys, half the time those thing are bought on an instinct, you see it, you want it, you buy it. That's how most people are now and a days they want things that they see. You would be surprised that if you wait just a day to see if you still want it, how often you no longer remember what it was or don't even think of it again. Sometimes you see something and you keep going back to it again and again. Then you buy it, eve though you still don't need it you buy it. The things that you do need are things like food and clothes and a way to get around so gas and a car, but we spend more money on the things we want than the things we need.
“I think that it would be better than this, for the students, or those who desire to be benefited by it, even to lay the foundation themselves.” -Thoreau
When he starts writing about the faults in our education system, his main point is that people would benefit if they had to do the work themselves. For example if you were build your own house you would want to make sure that the walls stayed up, because if they fell you would be the only one to blame and you could make sure that you didn't hurt your self. If you were to be able to build a school that you could make the rules at, it would be the perfect school for you, but it. At not be the perfect school for some one else, that because they did not build it. If you could design a school it would probably be the best you can want. Since most people don't get to build a school there is almost never the perfect school for anyone because the school is perfect for the one who would build it. Every school will have something that you don't like. I am finding this at almost every school that I visit during the secondary school application process. Some school it's the location others it is that they don't offer wrestling or Latin. If you want to learn something and not forget it you have to do it with your hand and by your self. Thoreau writes about a boy who gets shown how to make a knife and a boy who makes one on his own. If you want to learn something you should be the one to teach your self what to do.
People have never stopped to wonder what they are missing by doing what they do every single day of their lives, they miss a lot. In his book Walden, Henry David Thoreau mentions this indirectly when he says “He has no time to be anything but a machine….” which is still true to this day. People are often working for almost all their lives they do the same thing every day of the week except for the weekend where they have some fun, but most of their lives are spent doing what they think they need to do to survive, earn money. People are always trying to earn money, people work for about 40 hours each week doing just that, working.
Once I realized this, I also realized that people evaluate each other by what they have and who they are. That's part of why people often want to go buy the newest and best smart phone or the most updated version of a lap top which they do not need, but they think they do. The reason for that is because you think if I have a newer phone I am better than some one who doesn't. The new phone may be bigger and look cooler, but it still does the same thing that you would have used your old phone for, texting, emailing, calling and work, you can do that on both phones. I have the iPhone 4 which is smaller than the newest version, it may have a worse camera and it doesn't have Siri, but I can still text, call email and do work on it. The main reason that you wanted the new phone is so you can think of your self as better than any one who does not have that phone. We as people also evaluate each other by our homes. Walden touches briefly on this topic when Thoreau says “Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have...". This is still true even 150 or so years later, people think that they need a big house, but in reality the just need a roof over their heads and a place to warm up in the winter months when it cold outside. People spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to have heat in the winter and lights at night which just make their lives easier, but is it worth all that money when you can use candle and have a fire burning all the time to heat your house for only the cost the calories you burn when you get the fire wood for your house. I will not disagree that lighting and heating are safer and easier than the alternatives of fire and candles but you can live almost the same while having more fun. Which is more fun going out in to the woods cutting down a tree brining it back and making it in to fire wood or doing nothing, I think getting the fire wood because it will never be the same sometimes you may see animals or maybe not, but if you do nothing you will have no variety in your life.
After reading the first section of Walden I have come to realize that people need to be more self motivated, because people often pay others to do work which they can do on their own. The most common example is construction, people pay people to build houses for them Ben though they may be able to do it on their own. If they build their own house it may not be as good but it is more than what some people have. I also learned people need to be more self aware, by that I mean they need to know why they want the newest phone an know more about what they need vs what they want. People have survived thousands of years with out the use of Internet and over 40 years we have become dependent on it. That just goes to show that we can survive with out Internet or cell phones. I will not disagree they make our lives easier, but do we don't need them. Lastly I learned if you want to learn how to do something you will have to figure out how to learn to do it and not wait for someone else to want to learn about it.
“If it is asserted that civilization is a real advance in the condition of man—and I think that it is, though only the wise improve their advantages- it must be shown that it has produced better dwellings without making them more costly”
Thoreau is questioning if the advances in civilization are a benefit to man or a downfall, because we may have better houses and other thing but are we happier as a species, when we are continually working and always needing money. We could be living in small wooden huts and live just fine and sustain ourselves for years, just like Thoreau did and have more fun than sitting around in a big new house with a bunch of waisted space.